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    Grinnell College
  Nov 19, 2017
2013-2014 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Mathematics and Statistics, B.A.

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Mathematics and Statistics

   Member of the Division of Science


Karen Shuman


Jeffrey Blanchard
Marc Chamberland
Christopher French
Jennifer Good
Jeffrey Jonkman
Shonda Kuiper
Katherine McClelland
Joseph Mileti

Emily Moore
Thomas Moore
Chris Olsen
Jennifer Paulhus
Nicholas Teff
Michael VanValkenburgh
A. Royce Wolf

Study of the mathematical sciences develops logical thinking and quantitative ability; mathematical skills in rigorous deductive analysis and in the use of data are germane to many disciplines. The curriculum of the department is divided into two basic parts: mathematics and statistics. Each provides a combination of fundamental theory and widely applicable material of interest to all students of liberal arts. The curriculum further prepares majors who plan careers in pure or applied mathematics, probability or statistics, or in the natural or social sciences, in teaching, or in other professions.

Depending on their background and interests, students may enter the study of mathematics at different points. Those with good preparation normally start in MAT 131 , while those with less preparation may start in MAT 123 , and those with advanced standing in MAT 133  or MAT 215 MAT 115  and MAT 209   are both Introductory Statistics courses. MAT 209  is intended for students who have strong quantitative skills. Students who have some previous experience with statistics are encouraged to consult with a member of the department to determine if this course or a more advanced course is appropriate for them. Thereafter, the student's intellectual curiosity, interests, and abilities and the needs of various disciplines determine the particular mathematics courses selected. Several courses make use of the department's network of workstations for graphics, computation, data analysis, and numeric experimentation.

Mathematics majors pursue many interests. All are encouraged to study in depth at least one field, such as physics or economics, in which mathematics is applied extensively. Some enjoy working on challenging problems, such as those presented in the Putnam Examination or the Mathematical Contest in Modeling, both of which are national mathematics competitions; many present talks to the Mathematics and Statistics Student Seminar. Visiting lecturers extend the curriculum beyond the classroom, as do opportunities for students to do summer research in mathematics.

Major Requirements: A minimum of 32 credits

Additional Requirements

  • 16 of the 32 credits must be at the 300 or 400 level, including those courses listed above.
  • Courses numbered 297, 299, 397, 399, 499 (MAPs), plus-2's and below 123 do not satisfy major requirements.
  • With departmental approval, 4 credits of computer science may count toward the mathematics major.

Additional notes


Up to 8 credits can be earned for any combination of MAT 123 , MAT 124 , or MAT 131 , subject to the following constraints:

1. Upon successful completion (grade C or better) of either MAT 124  or MAT 131 , no further credits may be earned in any of these three courses.

2. If a student completes all three of MAT 123 , MAT 124 , or MAT 131 , the student’s credit is canceled in the first of these courses in which the student earned a grade of F or D. Also, the grade for that course will no longer be counted in computing the student’s G.P.A.


To be considered for honors in mathematics, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must demonstrate excellence in the major.  Honors are determined by committee on a case by case basis. Majors are encouraged to discuss their eligibiltiy for honors with their adviser before the spring semester of their senior year. The department applies the following criteria:

  • Excellent performance in two areas of upper division mathematics and statistics courses:

Algebra MAT 321  -MAT 324  or MAT 321  -MAT 326 

Analysis MAT 316  -MAT 331  or MAT 316  -MAT 338 

Probability and Statistics MAT 335  -MAT 336 

Applied Statistics MAT 309  -MAT 310 

Applied Mathematics MAT 306  -MAT 314 

  • Participation in local activities related to mathematics, judged to be excellent by members of the department. Such activities might include completing the senior seminar, giving Mathematics and Statistics student seminar talks, actively participating in the Problem-Solving Seminar, doing independent projects in mathematics, or carrying out summer research under the direction of members of the department;
  • Performance in the study or use of mathematics judged to be excellent by mathematicians outside the department. Evidence of such performance might include an outstanding score in the Putnam Competition or the Iowa Mathematics Competition, a score at or above the 75th percentile on the Graduate Record Examination in Mathematics, an award in the Mathematical Competition in Modeling, passing actuarial exams, or refereed talk at a mathematical conference or colloquium, a paper accepted by a refereed mathematical journal, or summer research conducted elsewhere. 

Mathematics and Statistics Courses


Mathematics and Statistics Course Descriptions


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